Christ Church, Oxford

Christ Church
Established 1546
Sister CollegeTrinity College, Cambridge
Dean The Very Revd Christopher Lewis
Graduates 174
Undergraduates 426

</div> Christ Church, called in Latin Ędes Christi (i.e. the temple/house of Christ), and commonly known as The House, is the cathedral of Oxford as well as one of the largest and wealthiest of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Traditionally it has been seen as the most aristocratic college. It has produced 13 British prime ministers (the most recent being Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1963-1964), which is more than any other Oxford or Cambridge college (and more than the total number for Cambridge University, at 11). However today the proportion of undergraduates from maintained and independent schools is roughly equal, which is typical of most Oxford colleges.

The city of Christchurch, New Zealand was named after the college, which was the setting of Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. The college is also the setting for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. More recently the college was used in the filming of the movies of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.



Christ Church is the only college in England which is also a cathedral (the smallest in England, and the seat of the Bishop of Oxford). Its corporate title is The Dean, Chapter and Students of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry the Eighth, and the Visitor of the House is the reigning British Sovereign. The cathedral has a famous men and boys' choir, and is one of the main choral foundations in Oxford. The Governing Body of Christ Church consists of the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral, together with about sixty "Students", who until the 19th century had no governing powers, but are now equivalent to Fellows in other colleges. There is a Senior and a Junior Censor (formally titled the Censor Moralis Philosphię and the Censor Naturalis Philosophię) who are responsible for undergraduate discipline. A Censor Theologię is also appointed to act as the Dean's deputy.

Student life

As well as rooms for accommodation, the buildings of Christ Church include the cathedral (which also acts as the college chapel), a great hall, two libraries, two bars, and common rooms for dons, graduates and undergraduates. There are also gardens and a neighbouring sportsground and boat-house.

Accommodation is provided for all undergraduates, and for some graduates, though some accommodation is off-site. Members are generally expected to dine in hall, where there are two sittings every evening, one informal and one formal (where jackets, ties and gowns are worn). The Buttery next to the Hall serves drinks around dinner time. There is also a college undercroft bar, as well as a Junior Common Room (JCR) and a Graduate Common Room (GCR).

There is a college lending library which supplements the university libraries (many of which are non-lending). Law students have the additional facility of the college law library. Most undergraduate tutorials are carried out in the college, though for some specialist papers undergraduates may be sent to tutors in other colleges.

Croquet may be played in the Master's Garden in the summer. The sportsground is mainly used for cricket, tennis, rugby and soccer, and also contains a bar. Rowing and punting is carried out by the boat-house across Christ Church Meadow.


In 1525, at the height of his power, Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of York, suppressed the Abbey of St Frideswide in Oxford and founded Cardinal College on its lands. He planned the establishment on a magnificent scale, but fell from grace in 1529, before the college was completed.

In 1531 the college was itself suppressed, and refounded in 1532 as King Henry VIII's College by Henry VIII, to whom Wolsey's property had escheated. Then in 1546 the King, who had broken from the Church of Rome and acquired great wealth through the dissolution of the monasteries in England, refounded the college as Christ Church as part of the re-organisation of the Church of England and made it the cathedral of the recently created diocese of Oxford.

Christ Church's sister college in the University of Cambridge is Trinity College, Cambridge, founded the same year by Henry VIII. Since the time of Queen Elizabeth I the college has also been associated with Westminster School, which continues to supply a large proportion of the scholars of the college.

Tom Tower.
Tom Tower.

Major additions have been made to the buildings through the centuries, and Wolsey's Great Quadrangle was crowned with the famous gate-tower designed by Sir Christopher Wren. To this day the bell in the tower, Great Tom, is rung 101 times at 9:05 GMT (9 o'clock Oxford time) every night for the 101 original scholars of the college. In former times this signalled the close of all the college gates throughout Oxford.

King Charles I made the Deanery his palace and held his Parliament in the Great Hall during the English Civil War.

Deans of Christ Church

Famous Members

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Christ Church's famous Tom Tower, seen from St Aldate's (street).


Before formal Hall each evening, the following Latin grace is recited by a scholar of the House:

Nos miseri homines et egeni, pro cibis quos nobis ad corporis subsidium benigne es largitus, tibi Deus omnipotens, Pater cælestis, gratias reverenter agimus; simul obsecrantes, ut iis sobrie, modeste atque grate utamur. Per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.

On special occasions the following words replace Per Jesum Christum, etc.:

Insuper petimus, ut cibum angelorum, verum panem cælestem, verbum Dei æternem, Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, nobis impertiaris; utque illo mens nostra pascatur et per carnem et sanguinem eius foveamur, alamur, et corroboremur.

External link

  • Official Website (
  • Oxford Cathedral (*/Oxford/1.html), King's Handbook of Cathedrals (1865): The Cathedral, History of the See


  • Adams, Reginald (1992). The college graces of Oxford and Cambridge. Perpetua Press. ISBN 1870882067.

Colleges of the University of Oxford

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Arms of the University

All Souls | Balliol | Brasenose | Christ Church | Corpus Christi | Exeter | Green | Harris Manchester | Hertford | Jesus | Keble | Kellogg | Lady Margaret Hall | Linacre | Lincoln | Magdalen | Mansfield | Merton | New College | Nuffield | Oriel | Pembroke | Queen's | St Anne's | St Antony's | St Catherine's | St Cross | St Edmund Hall | St Hilda's | St Hugh's | St John's | St Peter's | Somerville | Templeton | Trinity | University | Wadham | Wolfson | Worcester

Permanent Private Halls at the University of Oxford

Blackfriars | Campion Hall | Greyfriars | Regent's Park College | St Benet's Hall | St Stephen's House | Wycliffe Hall


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